Professor Lubaina Himid MBEProfessor of Contemporary Arts
Several decades into her illustrious career, the absorbing artworks of Professor Lubaina Himid were suddenly thrust into the media spotlight in May following the announcement that the 62-year-old had gatecrashed the shortlist for the 2017 Turner Prize.
Professor Lubaina Himid MBE from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has been crowned the winner of the 2017 Turner Prize.
The contemporary art professor was chosen over Hurvin Anderson, Andrea Buttner and Rosalind Nashashibi for the sought after award, which is considered to be one of the most prestigious international visual arts awards. Lubaina’s work has been on display at the the Ferens Art Gallery, in Hull, since September as part of the UK City of Culture celebrations and her achievement was announced live on the BBC on Tuesday, 5 December.
The Preston-based artist said: “It’s great to win, especially as so many people in Preston were rooting for me. It will make a huge difference to my profile and give a platform to the issues I want to champion.”
The prestigious yet ever-controversial contest has variously wowed, amused and incensed the press and the public at large, providing a pedestal for the enfants terribles of the art world and elevating them to household names. Previous prize winners include Anthony Gormley, Steve McQueen, Grayson Perry and Damien Hirst (whose Mother and Child Divided – two bisected cows pickled in formaldehyde – became an iconic image of the 1990s).
The award cements an exciting year for Lubaina, who is also a PhD supervisor at UCLan. In November, she was named Artist of the Year by Apollo Magazine and her two successful solo exhibitions at Modern Art Oxford and Spike Island in Bristol led to her Turner Prize nomination. Known as one of the pioneers of the British black arts movement back in the 1980s, Lubaina has spent her 35-year career shining a light on the trade in enslaved people and the contribution made by the people of the Black Diaspora.
The Head of the School of Art, Design and Fashion Maria Murray congratulated Lubaina. She said: “We are incredibly proud of Lubaina’s achievement on what is arguably one of the art world’s biggest stages. Simply being nominated for this globally recognised award is a tremendous feat but to win it is amazing. Lubaina has worked hard throughout her career to share stories relating to African diaspora and the slave industry that otherwise may never be told. She is a great inspiration to our students who have followed her Turner Prize journey with excitement and benefit immensely from her creativity and experience.”
UCLan Vice-Chancellor Professor Mike Thomas echoed Maria’s sentiments: “Lubaina has really put the University on the art world map. We’ve always known that Preston and UCLan has a strong artistic community but this recognition has brought it to a national stage. It is a magnificent achievement.”
The Telegraph recently hailed Lubaina as “the under-appreciated hero of black British art.” One of the pioneers of the British black arts movement of the 1980s, her works include numerous paintings, drawings and installations that explore the African diaspora and the slave industry. She has been acclaimed for giving a voice to the voiceless; oppressed peoples whose histories have often been neglected and rendered invisible.
Judges praised Lubaina’s Turner Prize nominated work “for addressing pertinent questions of personal and political identity”.
Lubaina, who was born in Zanzibar and grew up in London, was made an MBE in 2010. She made the headlines when the Turner Prize shortlist was announced earlier this year because at the age of 62 she is the oldest person ever to be nominated after the award abolished its ban this year on people over 50 being eligible.
One of the best known prizes for the visual arts in the world, the Turner Prize aims to promote public debate around new developments in contemporary British art. Established in 1984, it is awarded to a British artist for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work in the twelve months preceding 24 April 2017. The prize has previously been won by Damien Hirst, Antony Gormley and Grayson Perry.
Lubaina has been called “the under-appreciated hero of black British art.”